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Series / Lipstick On Your Collar

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Drama by Dennis Potter set in Whitehall during the Suez Crisis and starring Ewan McGregor in his screen debut. An expansion of the earlier TV Play, Lay Down Your Arms, the action follows Frank Francis and Mick Hopper as they plough through their National Service by translating Russian documents for the Military Intelligence service. Mick's just biding his time until he can return to civvy street and pursue his dream of playing in a Rock & Roll band, while Francis is smitten with his upstairs neighbour, Sylvia, who just happens to be the wife of his and Mick's vicious commanding officer, Pete Berry.


Provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Harold Atterbow serves as this to Sylvia.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Mick appears to suffer this due to the boredom of the War Office, particularly in the first couple of episodes when he'll have an Imagine Spot musical number at the drop of a hat.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Corporal Berry seems, during most of the first episode, to be as jovial as Mick. Before long, it's revealed that not only is he a genuine Drill Sergeant Nasty, he's also regularly physically abusive to his wife and an all-round bully.
  • Boring, but Practical: Francis' love of Russian poetry is soundly rejected by the staff at the War Office, with them stating that this trope is what his translation work should consist of.
  • British Brevity: Consisted of a single six-episode series.
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  • Dirty Old Man: Harold
  • Domestic Abuse: A regular feature of Sylvia and Pete's marriage. It's also hinted that a form of this may be taking place between Francis' aunt and uncle, but thanks to his aunt's Stepford Smiler tendencies, it's never elaborated on.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Mick and Francis serve as a variation
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: A bit of an odd case. It's justified somewhat since it is set in the 1950s and takes place in mostly very stuffy environments, but there are several times when it's clear the Verbal Tic phrase "shagging" is being used in place of actual swearwords.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Sylvia tends to inspire such reactions from much of the male cast.
  • Imagine Spot: The musical numbers all appear to take place in various characters' imaginations.
  • Love at First Sight: Both Francis and Mick appear to be struck by this upon their initial meetings with Sylvia and Lisa respectively. By the end of the series, however, the two have switched.
  • Male Gaze: A lot of the Imagine Spots feature barely-clothed women. Sylvia also gets a lot of appreciation from the camera.
  • Pair the Spares: Mick and Sylvia ending up together sort of comes off this way since the two of them barely share any interaction.
  • Repetitive Name: Private Francis Francis. His superior officer reminds him that his Repetitive Name does not exempt him from Last-Name Basis:
    Major Church: Well, Francis, get this clear. When we call you "Francis", we mean "Francis", not "Francis".
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Francis to Mick; and then both Francis and Mick to Pete.
  • Signature Style: Features many lip-synced musical numbers in the style used in The Singing Detective.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Pretty much all the middle-aged officials at the War Office have shades of this to varying degrees.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Harold to Sylvia
  • Young Love Versus Old Hate: One of the themes of the series. Most of the younger characters just want to live their lives and fall in love while the elder character are all busy either preparing for the possibility of all-out war or else trying to force their uptight mannerisms and prejudices on the younger characters.


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